Well the life of a FIFO wife has just begun. Women have been doing this for years and I take my hat off to them. Now there are some things about being a FIFO wife and the lifestyle on the net and some of it is very practical and very helpful. The thing is, while I am practical I am much more of an emotional, reflective, thinking type person and so practical isn’t always helpful to me, I don’t need a solution I need to be able to sustain the journey and be honest about where I am at.
We’ve been married for almost 24 years and have not spent much time apart in the 27 years that we have actually spent together so this transition is hard. I realize that what follows may seem possibly quite a negative take, but when I looked at some of the FIFO stuff what I wanted to read and hear is that other people struggle too and then at least it’s not such a lonely place to be. I wanted to be able to read that the emotions and struggles, while possibly, as with a lot of emotions are irrational and fleeting, are valued and not put down as stupid. I am a strong, independent, fairly intelligent woman with my own career, so it’s not like I have hung off my husbands side for 27 years being a lap dog, I wasn’t a stay at home mum, I worked. I am making myself a little vulnerable sharing this stuff but I do so out of honesty and also so that if there are any other women who think “well they can do it, I have to just get on with it,” maybe this will offer just a momentary sigh of relief to say “well actually the reality of FIFO money and lifestyle aside is still shit!”
Money and lifestyle often comes up in the FIFO stuff I have read, as does the important time of the FO part, the R & R is a great time spent together. My take on these points is that it’s great to be able to see the time as quality but you can never get time back. Time unfortunately has become a commodity like everything else in life, save it, spend it, waste it, but in doing these things we often forget to to embrace it in the present and live it. It is so important to enjoy the week or two, depending on the roster, together, making every moment count, but at this stage in the game for me I am wishing the weeks that he is away to pass, so I find myself in the struggle of embracing the present moment. FIFO doesn’t and for us probably won’t be a long term activity so I do have the brevity of being apart on my side. In life, people adapt and simply get used to things, we begin to develop routines and life goes on, yes I know all of this, but as I said, at the moment it’s a struggle and I know one that will pass, but come on, if we love our partners can we not name this struggle without being judged or reminded “well at least they get paid well!”
I have to also be honest and say I am supporting this lifestyle not just for, perhaps not even for the monetary rewards, but because the job my husband has secured is a role that is the first in a very long time in Australia and so it’s a great opportunity for him, I am so proud of him and it’s not forever! The money earned on these FIFO jobs and big construction jobs can become a bit of a dangerous trap. We all end up lured by the income – Tradespeople have been devalued in the pay department for a long time, they are skilled men and women and FIFO and construction are the places that value them, because they need them more than a white collar worker. I have heard many friends say just another few years and that’s it I can settle back at home, but I have also witnessed the coming home and being unable to sustain being together, the result, no not divorce, but simply back on the FIFO conveyor. This FIFO shit is not without downsides and risks, and I for one am prepared to say it.
I have hung out with a few tradies and a common saying among them when they are home is “I hate it, it’s shit” well as for me the wife at home alone I reckon “I hate it, it’s shit!” And so I am sharing that feeling. If you are a FIFO wife reading this and want to tell me to “suck it up princess” that’s fine, but if you are a FIFO wife that thinks, hey it’s true, it’s hard and it’s a struggle at times I encourage you to share that.